The ocean swells and roaring waves engulf the misty surroundings. Amidst this stormy seascape, a dancer bursts into frantic movement. His fragmented gestures transform as the audience becomes submerged beneath the water, and mirrors the setting’s fluid aesthetic. With movement as the joint operator, Aqua Khoria poetically combines dance, music, sound, and environment to venture into a new realm of immersive creation.
The show stars and is created by critically acclaimed contemporary choreographer and dancer, Peter Trosztmer, in collaboration with renowned composer and music-digital artist, Zack Settel. Their project, Aqua Khoria, is produced by two of Montreal’s leading figures in the contemporary dance scene—Tangente and Danse-Cité. Both companies champion risk-taking, collaboration, and inventiveness—all of which are embodied in the experimental nature of Aqua Khoria.
Trosztmer and Settel’s production program describes the show as “virtual sound bodies set in motion” within a “water-bound road trip, spanning the broad, the deep, the familiar, and the strange.” The following 50 minutes revealed the creators’ description was quite literal. Staged at the Satosphere, Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT)’s immersive dome theatre that forms a 360-degree spherical projection screen, the production exhibits a virtual liquid environment.
Settel’s animated seascape is projected onto the immense Satosphere theatre screens. The sounds of ripples and waves echo through surrounding speakers. Trosztmer holds sensors, which control the virtual world, enabling his movement to transport the audience through Settel’s creation. Trosztmer becomes the conductor of an audio-visual symphony as his gestures simultaneously summon waves and submerge the audience deeper beneath the ocean to discover sea creatures, shipwrecks, and caves. Consequently, Trosztmer and Settel consider their project as “a huge musical instrument.”
Additionally, Trosztmer dances on a basin of water that serves as a stage in the centre of the dome. As the water begins to ripple in response to his dancing, Trosztmer becomes dripping wet and visually marked by the show’s motif. His movement stimulates the auditory senses with splashes of real water. His performance reaches a dramatic peak as he stands in the centre of the water basin, while a virtual cave is projected on the screens. Water begins to drip with increasing pressure from the centre of the Stratosphere’s ceiling. Trosztmer is showered in water as a spotlight cuts in and out, emphasizing a series of tableaus. The images created are visually striking and leave the audience with powerful impressions of a body yearning for something.
Trosztmer and Settel’s artist statement gestures to a variety of possible meanings. The show could be representative of the great unknowns of the world and the subconscious. It could also be viewed as a deconstruction of reality as the performer dances amidst physical and virtual representations of water. The message of Trosztmer and Settel’s production is ambiguous, and alongside the abstract nature of the performance, it encourages spectators to draw their own meaning from the surreal seascape of Aqua Khoria. Whatever the creative duo’s metaphorical vision may be, Aqua Khoria dances on the threshold of the virtual and the real world, venturing towards a new poetic dimension of both contemporary dance and audio-visual creation.
Aqua Khoria has closed. Tangente’s next production, Fervid Bodies, will run from Nov. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. at Monument National, 1182 Saint-Laurent. For more information visit tangente.qc.ca.